More than 53 percent of consumers age 18 and older drink coffee on a daily basis. That translates into 7.7 million new coffee drinkers in 2 years.
With consumers enjoying a wider range of coffee drinks in offices, corner cafes and restaurants, they are also demanding better-tasting coffee at home. Here are a few ideas for a better brew:
* Pressure-brewed is best. In blind tests, more people prefer the taste of coffee that is high-pressure brewed, versus any other method. High-pressure-brewed coffee requires the use of pump-pressure coffee machines, like espresso machines.
* All pressure-coffee machines are not equal. There are several types of these machines. Steam-driven espresso machines create pressure in a closed boiler, then force the hot water through the coffee. Most can make up to 10 ounces of coffee at a time. A pump espresso machine pumps hot water through ground coffee faster than a steam machine, creating more pressure with better flavor and aroma.
Automatic coffee centers, like those from Breville and Gaggia, provide maximum flavor and aroma because they grind the beans just before the high-pressure brewing process. These machines control all aspects of high-pressure brewing, resulting in a better quality beverage, regardless of whether you choose an espresso, cappuccino, latte or just a large cup of pressure-brewed coffee.
* Look for Crema. Crema is thick frothy foam that sits on top of pressure-brewed coffee or espresso, trapping all the flavor and aroma underneath.
* A high-pressure-brewed coffee should always be the base for your cappuccino or latte. If you prefer cappuccinos or lattes, experiment with the amount of milk to suit your taste. Remember, coffee does not have calories, but milk does.
* Determine your price range. Take a look at your coffee-drinking habits. If you purchase two cappuccinos a day, you may be spending about $1,900 a year on gourmet coffee. For less than this, you can purchase an automatic coffee center from Gaggia or Beville that produces the same quality found in the coffeehouses.